Tag Archive | obedience

FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE (guest post)

In the middle of February, my husband and I ministered to a city that’s quite far from our city. We drove on the highway along 780 km, across three provinces and around 20 big and small cities. It was really fun. Then on Sunday afternoon we traveled home after two days of service. The highway was wide and quiet, the sun was bright, so perfect. But we cannot continue to enjoy that comfort. Half the trip had passed when we saw a thick lump of black cloud covering the sky in front of us. The color of the black clouds with the golden glow of dusk showed contrasting scene. Beautiful but also frightening! Moments after I captured it with a cellular camera, apparently our car began to enter the area under the black cloud. The rain immediately flushed and the longer the more heavy accompanied by strong winds. The heavy rain, the strong winds, and the darkness of the night, made our visibility very limited. A comfortable journey turned to full of suspense.

The lighting on the highway that we passed is only at the interchange, namely in the area before and after the gate of highway. Along the rest of the road there are only traffic signs and small plates at a certain distance that function as reflectors. The yellow reflector on the guardrail separates our lane from the opposite direction, and the red reflector on the guardrail on the edge of the highway. For hours traveling in the dark night accompanied by the roar of the rain and strong winds we only relied on traffic signs and luminescence from the reflectors that reflected the lights of our cars. And even then only a few meters, limited to the distance of the lights of our car. Those points of light were the guide for us, whether the road we are going through will turn left, right, straight, down, or uphill. Meanwhile, our windshield wipers were competing with the rain that forms a kind of water curtain covered the windshield, making the view more blurred. Many times we have to lean forward so we can see the signs and the road more clearly. We must pay attention to and ensure that we follow each sign directions correctly because a little mistake make us misdirected.

OBEDIENCE THAT BRINGS TO THE AIM

For me, the situation we experienced at that time described a phase in the journey of life. There are times when everything goes very pleasant, comfortable, safe, easy, and smooth. There is also a time when problems come, like clouds cover the sun and change the light to dark. That is the dynamics of life that can be experienced by anyone, whether in extreme forms or only wavelet.

The characters in the Bible also experience times when they have to walk in dark valleys. Moses, a Hebrew who was educated and lived in the palace of Pharaoh, had experienced the phase of becoming a fugitive and had to live in the house of a priest in the land of Midian for fear of being killed by Pharaoh (Ex 2: 11-22). Joseph, a favorite son who was given a tunic of many colors by his father, also experienced several times the ups and downs of the dynamics of life. Starting from being dumped to a well and sold to Egypt, then got a position as a trustee of Potiphar, but then being imprisoned for being slandered (Gen. 37: 12-36; Gen. 39). David, a worshiper of the Lord, experienced the extreme dynamics of life from a sheep shepherd who was suddenly anointed to become king, then became the person trusted by King Saul. But then the situation changes. David became Saul’s main enemy until he had lived on the run for several years (1 Samuel 16-30). Then when he became king as God promised, there was a treason led by his own son until he had to flee from his palace (2 Sam 15-17). Those are three of the many stories of the characters in the Bible. Their experiences differ from one another but there is one common thread, namely obedience. They were people who remain obedient to follow the guidance of God even though they are under pressure. They didn’t deviate from the provisions of God, didn’t compromise with sin, and remain faithful to do what is right in the midst of their plight. In the end, it obedience brought them into fulfillment of God’s plan and made them reach the finish line brilliantly.

God has a special plan for each of us and He has provided everything needed so that we can work on His call, but it can only be realized if we obey Him.

Obeying God’s guidance in the midst of dark times has its own difficulties. Like walking in the rain on a dark night, heavy pressure can make us unable to see everything clearly because we panic, worry, fear, stress, depression. Our feelings become uneasy so it is difficult to pray. The desire to get out of trouble quickly makes us impatient waiting for God’s help. These various psychological conditions can make our spiritual eyes unable to see clearly and our spiritual ears become insensitive. We can be tempted to take shortcuts and seek help in our own way. When we finally choose to follow our own will, we will be misguided, because what we think is good is not necessarily good and what we think is right is not necessarily true.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV)

Solving problems in our own way at first often seems successful but we don’t know what will happen at the end of the road. Obeying God’s guidance is the only way if we don’t want to get lost and regret later on. Knowing God’s guidance isn’t complicated. God has provided complete guidance for us, namely the Bible. The Bible is the written word of God. Following God’s guidance means doing what is written in the Bible.

 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.” (Psalm 119:105-106 NIV)

“Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:129-130 NIV)

The Word of God is like a traffic sign that shows direction and is like a light that illuminates our path. If our lives are on a dark road, just do what the Bible says even though it’s not directly related to the problem we are facing. Obedience to God’s word will make us smarter, wiser, and more understanding, even beyond knowledgeable and experienced people.

“Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers,  for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders,  for I obey your precepts.” (Psalm 119:98-100 NIV)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV)

We really don’t know the whole of our journey. Be obedient, because every obedience to the word of God will take us step by step to the way out of our struggle. The wisdom and understanding that comes from God through His word will enable us to view problems with the right perceptions so that we can make the right decisions. Moreover, every obedience to the word of God will change us day by day to become more and more like Christ.

BELIEVE IN GOD

We cannot totally obey Him if we don’t believe in Him.

Moses, Joseph, and David were people who obeyed God’s guidance because they were believe in God. Moses could have kept hiding and refused to be sent by God to meet Pharaoh, but Moses chose to obey. Moses obediently worked on God’s call to lead millions of Israelites across the desert with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. When the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire stop, he stops. Where the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire move, there he follows. Joseph could have complied with the wishes of Potiphar’s wife, but he chose to run away from her because he knew that it is sin. Joseph also had the opportunity to take revenge on his brothers who had made him suffer, but instead he gave them a place to live and fulfill their needs because he knew that God had a special plan for his life in Egypt. David had more than one chance to kill Saul, but David did not want to do it. Actually, if he killed Saul, he would easily occupy the position of king, but he chose patiently to wait for God’s time.

Moses, Joseph, David, and the people used by God in the Bible are people who fully believe in God. They don’t put their secure feelings into the situation. They don’t entrust their future to experiences, skills, connections, position and wealth. They don’t make decisions based on their own passions and considerations, but they follow God’s guidance even though sometimes for a moment it seems that their obedience doesn’t make things better. They still believe in God and rely on God in all circumstances, good or bad.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we are in a bad situation, remember what David did when he was greatly distressed in Ziklag: “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” (1 Sam 30:6 NIV). Let’s strengthen our trust in God. Not with our own strength but with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enable us to faithfully step in to follow God’s guidance. Not only until we get a way out of our problems, but until the end of our lives. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edited with pixlr apps)

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NOT TO RULE BUT TO SERVE (Guest Post)

 

Realizing or not, humans love to be respected, appreciated, and even feared by others. In varying degrees, there is satisfaction when humans are able to rule and control others, whether with charisma or with the authority they have. Some people sincerely want to be a blessing to others, but others pursue a certain position to fulfill their needs for influence and power. There are also those who initially start leadership with the right motivation, but feeling satisfied and comfortable when respected and served, can slowly shift their sincerity and humility into pride. Accustomed to being respected by others can make us assume ourselves higher than others if we don’t take care of our hearts.

Leadership in the church isn’t immune to such attitudes. As leaders at any level in ecclesiastical ministry, we must remain vigilant so as not to fall into arrogance which could be changes our hearts from the heart of a Christ’s servant to the heart of a ruler. On the other hand, as a church congregation we should not put too much admiration and hope on our spiritual leaders so that we don’t fall into the sin of idolatry. As great as our spiritual leaders, God must accept the highest admiration from us and God must be the only source of our hope. Because what makes our leaders great isn’t their ability but the power of the Holy Spirit that works within them.

TO BE A SERVANT AND A SLAVE

In Matthew 20: 20-28, once James’ mother and John’s mother made a request to Jesus that Jesus give their children a position on His right and left in His Kingdom. In other words, they want to be given a power to rule. Lord Jesus gave a very interesting answer using a comparison of TWO TERMS:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Not so with you. Instead, whoever WANTS to become GREAT among you MUST BE your SERVANT,

and whoever WANTS to be FIRST MUST BE your SLAVE—

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)

There are TWO COMPARISONS in the statement of the Lord Jesus: 1) whoever WANTS to become GREAT among you MUST BE your SERVANT, and 2) whoever WANTS to be FIRST MUST BE your SLAVE.

In the first comparison: “GREAT” refers to people who are influential and have certain powers within a certain scope. And “SERVANT” in the original language uses the word “DIAKONOS” which means people who are in charge of serving or emphasizing humility to serve others.

In the second comparison: “FIRST” refers to a person with the highest position, occupying the most important or most respected position. “SLAVE” in the original language uses the word “DOULOS” which means metaphorically someone who is completely under the will and authority of others.

If we paraphrase, this is what Jesus’ said: “He who wants to be a great or powerful and influential person must become a servant who always serves the needs of others, and whoever wants to be the most respected and highest position he must surrender himself to become a slave who willingly places himself to do the will of his master.”

Note that the HIGHER a position someone wants to achieve, the LOWER he must position himself! This is the principle of leadership in the Kingdom of God.

HUMILITY COMES BEFORE HONOR

“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12 NIV)

Humility comes before honor. This principle cannot be reversed. If we pursue honor without first learning to humble ourselves, then we will become authoritarian leaders and don’t respect others. It’s not impossible in the end we also don’t respect God. God doesn’t set us to be leaders and then we must be willing to serve others. Not like that. But, the first we are a servant of Christ then He calls us to be a leader: We are a servant of Christ who called as leaders.

The proof of humility comes before honor is the Lord Jesus himself:

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and TOOK ON THE STATUS OF A SLAVE (DOULOS), became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” (Philippians 2:5-8 The Message)

The Lord Jesus humbled himself and was willing to position himself as a slave who was subject to the will of the Father to die on the Cross. The result is that Jesus was greatly exalted by God the Father:

“Therefore GOD EXALTED HIM TO THE HIGHEST PLACE  and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV)

The last sentence is really interesting. Paul, an apostle who led and anointed by the Holy Spirit to write a large part of the New Testament, stated that the Lord Jesus was exalted not for the glory of Jesus himself, but for the Glory of God, the Father. This kind of humility is what we must have. Whatever achievements and successes we reach out, we must always return all praises to the glory of God the Father, not take credit points for ourselves!

SLAVES TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

Like the Lord Jesus who humbly took on the status of a slave (doulos) who was willing to surrender himself to carry out the will of the Father, so we are.

“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become SLAVES (DOULOS) TO RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Romans 6:17-18 NIV)

We have been redeemed from sin and paid in full through His sacrifice. We no longer have the right to live for ourselves, but we must be “a slaves to the righteousness” namely “slaves” who are fully obedient to do all the word of God which is the highest truth. Being a slave to the righteousness means we always crucify our flesh, including our pride and selfishness, to always submit to the will of Christ. Only by continuing to submit to Christ, we are continually processed and trained to be humble so that we can serve God and others according to His commands. Thus we can become leaders in accordance with the standards of God’s Kingdom, that is NOT TO RULE, BUT TO SERVE!

The road to humility isn’t easy and unpopular. Often we have to be willing to take off our “robe of greatness” then wrap a towel to our waist to wash our fellow feet. We can no longer say “Here I am, look at me”, but must always be humble ourselves and say “All glory to God the Father”.

May this Lord’s message to the Philippians also speak strongly in our hearts: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 NIV)

 

AMEN

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edited with pixlr apps)

CONQUER YOURSELF (guest post)

Hello my dear readers! I just wanted to let you know that this guest post is the last post of my blog this year. I’ll be back on January next year. I personally want to say thank you very much for the support, comment, suggestion, and likes on my posts throughout this year. I also want to say sorry if during December I’m inactive do blogging just because I’m on vacation in Paris. Thank you very much. God Bless you all.

 

 

In the previous guest post (PUTT OFF YOUR EGO) , we understand that every response and our reaction to everything is influenced by the ego. That’s why we must abandon our old human ego, and begin to look at ourselves in the Divine perspective and act in harmony with what God says so that we don’t fall into the sins caused by the ego. To completing that post, let us together learn about conquering ourselves as Paul did while he served the Lord with his whole life.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it TO GET A CROWN THAT WILL LAST FOREVER.

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.

No, I BEAT MY BODY and MAKE IT MY SLAVE so that after I have preached to others, I myself will NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE.

    (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NIV)                

Paul made an analogy that every Christ’s follower is an athlete in a match. A truly athlete not only exerts his energies, but also invests his entire life to focus on winning in every game. They keen to practice to become more and more expert in their field. They struggle to control themselves: regulate their diet, condition their thoughts and feelings, and often have to overcome their laziness and pleasure. Paul says that all the self-denial they do is for a mortal crown, but we, the spiritual athletes, are fighting for an eternal crown. In the context of 1 Corinthians 9: 25-27, the eternal crown isn’t talking about salvation, but the eternal blessedness which will be a prize to the genuine servants of God and Christ. Isn’t it for eternal blessing we should try harder?! Now let’s see the spiritual life of the Apostle Paul.

Paul’s dedication and totality to the preaching of the gospel is unquestionable. The letter of 2 Corinthians 9: 23-28 describes Paul’s sacrifice and suffering in ministry. He was physically abused, faced with disasters and dangers everywhere. He has to work hard so often not sleep, starvation, thirst, cold, fasting, and so on. None of the suffering made him weak and retreated. It is precisely from a person who is willing to die for the Gospel came out this statement: “No, I BEAT MY BODY and MAKE IT MY SLAVE so that after I have preached to others, I myself will NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE.”

There are two points emphasized by the apostle Paul, that are “I BEAT MY BODY” and “MAKE IT MY SLAVE”.

I BEAT MY BODY

The body which Paul speaks of in this context is not physical, but the existence of the human self in which there are thoughts, feelings, and will with all its strengths and weaknesses. So, the meaning of “I beat my body” is discipline himself by hardships, handle it roughly like a boxer one buffets his own body. This self-discipline isn’t enough just once but every day, constantly, and for the rest of our lives!

Often we angry, hardened, and unwilling to tolerate others. On the contrary, we become weak to face ourselves. We too often surrender to our desires, feelings, and thoughts. Though we know that what we want or what we are doing isn’t good and even wrong, but we are powerless to stop it. If we want to win we must be like Paul. He applied a very hard discipline to himself. He is beating his flesh, defeating his ego, forcing himself to do what he should do, not what he wants to do.

BECOME SLAVE

Paul disciplined himself very hard like a master to his slave. Being a slave is an unpleasant word. In the days of slavery, a slave had no right to question, deny, and resist his master’s orders. The life of a slave is wholly owned and controlled by his master. Paul says “MAKE IT MY SLAVE”. Paul made himself his slave. In other words, Paul doesn’t allow himself to be controlled by his own will, feelings, and thoughts. Then to whom did Paul subdue himself? To God.

For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. (1 Corinthians 7:22 NKJV)

Many people want to rise from their downfall and abandon their bad habits, but in reality they continue to do it again and again. They are powerless because they have been enslaved by their own minds, feelings, and wills. Dear reader, if we want to be free and not enslaved by ourselves, then we must subdue ourselves to God. All our existence must be submissive to God like a slave who has no right to himself.

SERVING GOD UNTIL THE END

An athlete’s struggle has begun since he decided to attend a match, and an athlete’s victory is not only determined when he is in the arena, but is largely determined by his preparations.

We are spiritual athletes. Our race starts from the moment we decide to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. Since then our lives are not ours anymore but belong to God. God is the Master, and we are His servants. The sign that we have made Christ as our Master is if we serve Him, not serving our own desires.

Unfortunately, the greatest obstacle for us to devote ourselves completely to God is OUR SELF. All that comes from outside us can indeed affect and trigger, but the final decision remains in our hands. Live in holiness or adultery, be patient or angry, forgive or grudge, faithful to a spouse or an affair, honest or lie, and so on, we decide it. It’s not just about choosing between sin and not, but also about everything that doesn’t support our devotion and service to God, even though it is not evil. For example: praying or sleeping longer, reading the Bible now or later, excessive shopping passion, moody, and so on. Often we have to wrestle with ourselves to make the appropriate choice of God’s will. James said: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” (James 1:14 NKJV) That is why we should not compromise with ourselves but must conquer it under the feet of Christ.

To conquer yourself means discipline to say “no” to ourselves to all things that not build our quality of life in Christ, and force ourselves to submit and say “yes” to everything that pleases God as our Master, even if we don’t loved it!

Conquering oneself requires a strong commitment. Not so that we may obtain salvation because salvation is not through man’s work but a free gift from God on the basis of grace. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and to all believers that the purpose of our struggle is: “….. so that after I have preached to others, I myself will NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NIV).

If an athlete is disqualified, then there is no longer any chance of winning a prize. When we are “disqualified”, so we will not get eternal rewards from God for all our ministries. How can? For, if we don’t conquer ourselves to God then we will be controlled and enslaved by our own desires. In other words, our master isn’t God but ourselves. The person who is the master of himself, will not be able to serve the Lord because what he serves is his own ego. This thing will be hinder our purity in serving God.

Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah). (Colossians 3:24 AMP)

God doesn’t see the number of activities in the ministry, but the most important is the transformation of life. Have our lives been in harmony with the gospel we preach? Have we lived righteously as the truths we know? Are we becoming more and more like Christ that we serve? If the answer is “no”, maybe we have not become a true servant of Christ. Maybe we serve because of hobbies, pride, happy to perform, develop talent, love to socialize and organize. All that isn’t wrong. But if we just stop at that stage and do not want to undergo a process of self-conquest that erodes our ego and transforms ourselves, then we can never serve God in the right way and pleasing to Him.

Look at the Apostle Paul. In his second letter to Timothy, the last letter he wrote from prison in Rome before he was beheaded by Emperor Nero, he said: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV) Paul was surely believe that he has finished his race very well. It is the hope and purpose of all believers.

Dear readers … Before this year’s end, let’s make a commitment and ask the Holy Spirit to help and strengthen so we can discipline and subdue ourselves. If we are always obedient to conquer ourselves under the will of God then our lives will bear the fruits of the Spirit. We will be more loving, able to rejoice even in distress, peace, be more patient, more generous, kinder, more faithful, gentle, and more self-controlling. If the fruit of the Spirit is abundant in our lives, then our ministry will be blessing our neighbor and glorify God’s Name. Until the time comes, we will receive eternal rewards for every of our labor in Jesus Christ. May the last post of this year be a blessing to you, and we will meet next year in a more mature spirituality.

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Image source: http://www.guoguiyan.com/runners-wallpapers/

Edit picture with pixlr app

Break The Wall

break-the-wall-karinas-thought

Hello my dear readers! I am happy could come back to the blog with my own post and I am grateful to God in the middle of my busyness this evening I could write something to share.

A few days ago one of my business friends invited me to visit her new house.  She built a new big and luxury house that surrounded by thick and high wall. I felt a bit weirdness when saw the house from the outside; the house looks more like a fortress. My husband jokingly said, “Maybe this wall could only be destroyed by missiles. Or we must march around for seven days like Jericho wall”

I smiled but suddenly remembered about the story of Jericho wall (Joshua 6:1-27). As we all know the Jericho wall destructed by the irrational and unique ways. After spending forty difficult years wandering in the desert of Sinai, they came to the eastern banks of the Jordan to take the Promise Land and they were facing first obstacle. The City of Jericho! Jericho city was surrounded by virtually impregnable thick massive stone. But Jericho wall was successfully destructed (seemingly) by a foolish strategy.  This  was a strategy that given by God to Joshua: All men of war and seven priests that bear seven trumpets of rams before the ark must around the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day they shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. When the sound of trumpets sounded they must shout with a great shout and the wall will fall down flat. (Joshua 6:3-5) Like most war stories, normally a giant fortress could be destructed only by enormous military force with all its weapons. But in fact, Jericho wall destructed not by military strategy and force but by beyond the logic supernatural power.

My beloved readers, in this post please allow me to share two valuable things that I learned from Jericho story. I hope and pray it could be a great lesson for us and could be applied in our lives.

 God’s promises, Faith, and Obedience

In my thought, there is an integral relationship between God’s promises, our faith, and obedience. When God promise to us, He will definitely fulfill His promises. God said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. (Joshua 6:2) This isn’t just a statement but rather to guarantee of God’s promise. God didn’t say: “…I will” but He even said “I have given…” even though the victory over Jericho was guaranteed but it wasn’t automatically. Israelite had to follow instructions from God.  Though God’s instruction seems odd and silly Joshua remains followed God’s command without asking and protest at all! Then Joshua said to the priest and his people:

“Take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.”  And he said to the people, “Proceed, and March around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord.” (Joshua 6: 6-7)

Here, faith and obedience plays an important role so Joshua and his people got victory over Jericho. We can see the obedience manner of Joshua. I imagine if only Joshua didn’t obediently follow God’s instruction, I strongly believe the Jericho wall wasn’t necessarily collapsed and the Israelite will never enter to the Promise Land. Why Joshua and his people could be obey to do God’s command? The answer is because they have faith. It is written in Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days” although in the past Israelite’ faith had frequently failed, at the time by faith they believed and trusted God and His promises and they did God’s command obediently. It means they saved by faith and their faith evidenced by obedience. Here we can learn something important. When there are so many hurdles and problems in our lives and God give instructions that seemed doesn’t make sense to do, let’s accept the instructions by faith and do it obediently. It is written in Deuteronomy 13: 4, “It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him”.

We must remember that God can use anything even the most unreasonable thing to declare His unlimited power. There was so much evidence in the Bible God showed His power through the irrational ways and beyond the range of human logic. God is never wrong. Any God’s instructions and commands has become a part of His plans and God’s entire plan is plan to prosper us and plans to give us hope and future, even not to harm us. (Jeremiah 29:11) We just need to trust by faith and obey it as our real deed. The scripture says that “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26) Joshua and his people showed their faith through deed by obey carried out God’s command and conquered Jericho and God fulfilled His promise by gave them victory over an enemy that was trying to keep them out of the Promised Land.

God’s way or our way

The second thing we could learn from this story is about God’s way. There is a vast difference between God’s way and the human way. It is written in Isaiah 55:8-9,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

I would like to take you to imagine the physical condition of Jericho wall. I am so sorry couldn’t take much time to explore deeper to find out the authentic information about the size of the wall. Below is the specification of the wall that I got from my father’s Bible archaeology books. Let’s take time a moment to imagine it. Jericho was surrounded by a great earthen rampart with stones retaining wall at its base, the size of retaining wall was around 12-15 feet high. On the top of that was 6 feet thick of mud brick wall and 20-26 feet high. There was similar mud brick wall on the crest of the wall with around 46 feet high above the ground level. Other archaeological discovery stated that Jericho wall consists of 2 layers. 6 feet thick on the outside wall, 12 feet thick on the inside wall, and the distance between outside and inside wall was around 12-15 feet. My dear friends, no matter about the size and construction, by human logic and reason this wall was very difficult to penetrate even impenetrable. If it can be, as I said before the wall must be destructed by very enormous military force but the fact Jericho wall was destructed didn’t by military weapons force but even by the very unique way.

In our daily lives, when the problems and obstacles hit us, which way we chose to overcome? Whether we remain chose God’s way even though His way looks so strange? Or we even chose our own understanding and way? The story of Jericho reminds and teaches us that God’s way is higher than our way. The world gives so many alternatives to solve our problems but once again we have to remember that God’s way isn’t our way. Personally, I’ve often felt God provide remarkable way and beyond of my mind to solve my problems. You know, when God gives an instruction or command, we must be fully aware that it’s God’s way and we must believe that God’s way is always the best for us. So there is no reason at all we still stand on our own understanding and disobey His command because God said:  so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverb 3:5)

Dear, friends. What about us now? If this time you and I are surrounded by “thick wall” of problems of life?  Is there a “giant wall” that hinder God’s promises and blessings get into our lives?  Whether we want to break it down but we don’t have enough power?  This evening allow me to encourage all of us to learn from the Jericho story. Thousand years ago God showed His amazing way to tear down the Jericho wall. So it’s with us today. God will provide the amazing way to break our “Wall”. God will give us victory over the “enemies” that we face throughout life. Let’s ask to the Lord to show His miracle ways. Let’s hear His instruction heartily, accept it, believe it by unwavering faith and do it obediently. By faith, let us bear in our hearts and minds that there are no walls as thick as anything that cannot be break if God pleased. Don’t ever under estimate God’s way because actually He is the way (John 14:6) and our ways aren’t His way. Don’t ever rely on our own thoughts because His thoughts aren’t our thoughts. There is nothing impossible before God (Luke 1:37) and God does His best work in impossible situation.

Let’s keep our faith remain working together with action and make our faith complete by what we do (James 2:22) let’s prove our faith by obedience. Let’s show our faith to other as evidence that we truly believe God will always fulfills His wonderful promises. By faith and obedience to God we can conquer all “wall” of problems in our lives and we could be a winner. Amen

Karina – Living by faith

Image source: Google images

 

 

 

 

IN THE SHADOW OF GOD (Guest Post)

Walking in the shadow of God

Bezalel is an unpopular name and only mentioned few times on the Bible. He didn’t divide the sea as Moses did (Exodus 14:21-22), he didn’t stop and make the sun and the moon stand still as Joshua (Joshua 10:12-14) and he didn’t bring a dead boy to life like Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24). His name is not even written in the witnesses of faith as Bible recorded in Hebrew 11. But God used this ‘ordinary man’ to lead the entire gifted artisans who were working in order to build the tabernacle and all the furnishings inside which God has commanded Moses.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “see, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. (Exodus 31:1-2 NKJV)

Was Bezalel that great until God chose him?? No, because God Himself has given Bezalel all kind of skill that he needed: “And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.” (Exodus 31:3-5 NKJV)

So, why did God choose Bezalel? And who is Bezalel actually?

 

THE DESCENDANT OF THE RIGHTEOUS

Bezalel is Hur’s grandson. Hur was a faithful follower of God. He was together with Aaron held Moses hand up so Israelites can win over Amelekites in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8-13). What does that mean? Hur was a considerate and obedience man to his leader. He supported his leader’s vision and he loved his people.

In addition, Hur, Bezalel’s grandfather was the man who Moses has trusted to be in charge of everything happened while Moses was on the top of mountain to meet God for 40 days and 40 nights. And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them.”(Exodus 24:14 NKJV)

It was not an easy issue for Moses to trust someone. Hur was not living mischievously. He was a righteous man and fear of God.

What is the relevance between Bezalel and Hur who lived righteously?

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS:

If we are the righteous… if we have applied the value of Kingdom of Heaven in our life… it means that we are INVESTING God’s blessings and favor for our future offspring. Be joyful for our descendants will be used by God and become a blessing.

The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:7 NKJV)

Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth. (Psalm 25:12-13 NKJV)

Was Bezalel blessed by God because he was merely from a righteous ancestor? Of course not. What will happen if we are not the descendant of the righteous? No problem. God will bless and use anyone who give their life and follow Him with whole heart. Let’s start to build our family in God’s way.

 

A RIGHTEOUS LIFE

The meaning of Bezalel is “in the shadow of God”. Those who dwell in the shadow of God will be there in the place where God is. They love to stay in God’s presence and covered by God’s protection. God paid Bezalel favor not simply because he came from a righteous family, but because he lived in righteous way. Bezalel drew his life near to God. He dwell in God’s shadow. He built strong relationship with God, so he knew God.

That is the reason why Bezalel did the exact things as God has commanded him, though to set up the tabernacle and to build all the instruments were difficult because the shape and size should be precise according to God. “And Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the Lord has put wisdom and understanding to know how to do all manner of work to the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the Lord has commanded.” (Exodus 36:1 NKJV) To did all he need total obedience to God.

Only those who obey and dwell close to God can do exactly the will of God.

 

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, if today any of us who feel that we are “ordinary” based on the world view (Even we think about ourselves too), have nothing, and unaccounted, do not be discourage. 

Bezalel was an ordinary man but he diligently sought God, built his life in God. Be like Bezalel, let’s start to build our relationship with God every time, walking together with the Holy Spirit and abide in His Words. If we always live in “the shadow of God”, there will be a time that God will lift us up. He will give us a bigger responsibility when we ready to do it with Him. Holy Spirit will equip us with all we need to do His jobs. He will help us to explore our talents. He will add even multiply our talents so we can be used by God according to His will. On the other hand, don’t be proud of ourselves if today God has blessed and used our lives. Everything is only by His grace! All in our life is God’s work!

As how great God has anointed and used Bezalel, God will use everyone who is available. God can lift a shepherd become a king (David); God called a fisherman and used him to be a fisher of men (Peter) ; God changed a ploughman became a powerful prophet (Elijah). God also capable of turning and using a tax collector to become a follower of Christ (Zaccheus), also a man who fought against the Lord eventually became a radical apostle (Paul) and a lot more to mention.

God is willing and able to transform, use, and equip everyone without exception, including you and me. God is not looking for ABILITIES, He is looking for the AVAILABILITY.

“God choose us not because “WHO WE ARE”, but because “WHAT GOD HAS DONE” within our lives. So there is no reason for us to boast about ourselves”

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36 NKJV)

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Image Source: Google Images

Smyrna, The suffering Church

 

SMYRNA, THE SUFFERING CHURCH - Karina's Thought

To be followers of Christ then our lives completely secure, free of problems, enjoy life without any obstacles at all. Have a life with abundance blessings, and live in prosperity.  I thought this is a misconception about following Christ and sadly, this concept is currently held by many people and becoming a benchmark when they decided to follow Christ.  Personally, I know a businessman who suddenly decided accept Christ in order to save his business that is threatened with bankruptcy. Today, there are many wrong purposes in following Christ. They only think about blessings, help, and miracles from God. Actually, we all know that being a Christ follower doesn’t mean that we will be hundreds percent have a safe life, trouble-free, and without any obstacles.  In fact, when we become a Christ’s follower, we will face so many trials and our faith will be tested.  It is so easy we says, “God is so good” when our lives is free of problems and there is no obstacles and pressure at all. But the question is, have we remain easily say, “Good is so good” when we have so many life pressure and in a very hard situation? Can we remain being faithful and obedient even though our lives in unpleasant condition? These are questions which the answer will indicate how far we love and believe in Him.

My brother and sister in Christ, this evening I would like to take all of us to learn from one of seven churches that received the message from God in the book of Revelation 2. Let’s take a look to the church in Smyrna. Smyrna was a seaport city about 40 miles north of Ephesus. It has been described as the most beautiful of the seven cities. Today it is called Izmir, Turkey. Scripture does not give us any information concerning the founding of this church, nor is it mentioned in the book of Acts. Presumably, this church was founded during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. Smyrna is the Greek word for myrrh, a flagrant perfume used in burial. Many believe that this church represents the martyrs of all the ages and the sweet-smelling fragrance of their faithfulness until death. There was no rebuke for this church and because they were faithful until death. Why the church in Smyrna mentioned as the martyrs of all the ages and sweet-smelling fragrance of their Faithfulness? Actually, the life of the church in Smyrna was contrary to the conditions the city of Smyrna itself. The church of Smyrna was the suffering church. How suffered they are? Let’s have a look together.

I know your afflictions and your poverty… (Revelation 2: 9 NIV)

The church of Smyrna suffered because of the pressure of the Roman government, at the time, made it mandatory that all citizens should worship the emperor or they will facing the death. They must burn incense and acknowledges that the emperor is God. Here lies the root of the problem. The church in Smyrna refused to do all that and they considered as unpatriotic traitors. Then the affliction begins. Many of them were boiled alive, many others were roasted alive, some crucified, or the Roman authorities took them to the coliseum and fed to the angry and hungry lions.

The church in Smyrna lived in poverty. Based on some of the commentary on the book of Revelation I have read, they were not only poor but they absolute poor. They were absolutely didn’t have anything.  They cannot live their lives normally. They hated, boycotted, people didn’t want to make a trading with them just because they were Christians. They cannot develop their work; there was no way to make a living, and worse it seems the all city dwellers trying to make them starve.

The affliction does not stop there, there is another one. The church in Smyrna was slandered.

I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2: 9b NIV)

The Jews was making false allegations and reported it to the government. They slandered that the Christians make a practice of cannibalism, immorality, considered atheists, people instigator, and a family crusher.

Another affliction is the church in Smyrna had long suffering.

…I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days… (Revelation 2:10 NIV)

Verse 9 talking about the suffering that has been experienced by the church in Smyrna, but the verse 10 speaks of the suffering that are still will experienced by them. There are many Bible commentators assume that “ten days” refers 10 period of time of suffering for the God’s church that will be experienced during the reign of ten anti-Christ Roman emperors.  And it was true; history noted that there were around five millions Christian dies as a martyr during ten period of Roman emperor.

What lessons that we can take from the church in Smyrna?  After I study deeper this passage, I thought there are two important things we can learn. Being fearless and be faithful. God gives two instructions to handle their suffering.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful, until death(Revelation 2: 10 NASB)

Do not be afraid and be faithful! God said these with His omnipotence and omnipresence (These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. Verse 8) and His omniscience (I know your afflictions and your poverty. Verse 9) and the church in Smyrna chose to be fearless and be faithful. They are not afraid to die to defend their faith in Christ. Polycarp, a pastor in Smyrna offered freedom by governor if he willing to deny The Christ. But He said: “for 86 years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my king and my savior?” Before Polycarp was burned, he prays, “Oh Lord, almighty God, I thank you for counting me worthy of sharing the cup of Christ among the number of your martyrs”. The church at Smyrna knows He is the Word that is the first and the last. What this means is that He is God who fought in the entire history of this world and have full authority over what happens. They also realized and understand in their suffering God always be with them and even will strengthen them. Suffering because of their faithfulness is not due God forgetting to help them but rather God is present in their lives.

My dear friends, what about us today? What season of life are we in today? Maybe we are in a season that everything is going great and we just love life. Things are running smoothly. We are so in love with the Lord. Every day there is just a wonderful surprise and we are just in a great season of life. But I going to tell one thing that God never promises us as a believer that life is going to always be fun. He never promises us that life is just going to be great. As a matter of fact, He promises us that if we are a believer, we will face suffering and you will have some persecution in our life.

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Jesus Himself reminded:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 NIV)

This evening,  allow me to encourage all of us to learn from the church in Smyrna. We may be hated by the world, received unfair treatment, insulted, slandered, and so on, but it should not make us turn away from God. Jesus had reminded this thing. He said:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19 NIV)

Let’s emulate the church in Smyrna to remain faithful, never give up, and keep stand firm in their faith despite the torment and suffering continue come upon them. And eventually, they got great rewards. There are two rewards from God. The first is “The Crown of life”

…and I will give you the crown of life. ( Revelation 2 : 10 NASB)

The second reward is, “The Eternal life”

He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2 : 11 NASB)

As a believer, we do have eternal life and He is saying we may suffer the first death, we may die physically, but spiritually we will never die again.

If today we facing so many severe pressures, problems, treated unfair, and any form of inconveniences, Please remember God said:  

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12 NIV)

Do not grumble when there is a problem, do not despair and give up. There is a crown of life and eternal life that God provides to all of us who remained faithful to God in all circumstances. Just as the church in Smyrna, let us prove the strength of our faith in Christ through fortitude, obedience and faithfulness whatever our situation. Amen

Karina – Living by faith

Supporting material resources:

Clarke, Adam. Commentary on Revelation, studylight.org

Keeth, Janane. Rekindle the Fire (Revelation 2-3), bible.org

The Pulpit commentaries, revelation 2, studylight.org

Related post:

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/daily-devotion-july-21-2015

http://tworiversblog.com/2015/12/10/smyrna-i-know/

 

 

Image credit:  The Church in Smyrna. padfield.com

Trust and Obey

Trust and obey 2

Yesterday when we held a gratefully worship for my 56th dad’s birthday, my dad asked to the worship leader to sing his favorite hymn song called “Trust and obey” which composed by Daniel Tower (1850-1919) and John Sammis (1846-1919). For my daddy this song become his life-theme and because it sums up God’s purpose for his entire lives.

He once said to me: “When the Lord calls you to a task that seems unreasonable, you have two options. You can obey Him even though you don’t understand what will happen, or you can become fearful and attempt to find a way out. Lets we take a look to Joshua when he raze the wall of Jericho. He chose the first option. Because he trusted the Lord, he disregarded all his military experience and adopted God’s bizarre battle plan. Over the years, he had learned that the Lord is trustworthy.”

Trust and obey is my favorite hymn song as well and there is an interesting fact behind this song. Here’s the story behind of Trust and Obey…

One night in the mid-1880s, when Dwight L. Moody was preaching in Brockton, Massachusetts, his “team” opened the floor, requesting spontaneous testimonies from the audience. A nervous young man stood and expressed his doubts and then his intentions: “I am not quite sure, but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.”

Daniel Towner, Moody’s musician was so struck by the power of those simple words that he quickly jotted them down, and then delivered them to John Sammis, who developed the lyrics to Trust and Obey.  Initially, Sammis just wrote four lines refrain to “Trust and Obey” but later he added four verses. Towner composed the music and the song quickly became a favorite. It remains popular with hymn singers today.

Trust and Obey. There are two duties in these sentences, each with equal importance, both faith and obedience. As with many such verses, there is also a clear progression. Although obedience is critical, everything begins with faith. In the matter of salvation, one can never work his way to Heaven. We are born again when we “Trust in the LORD.” That regenerating work will manifest itself in the desire and ability to “do well.” There is also a clear balance for godly living in this profound and inspired statement. It presents the absolute necessity of both faith and obedience. Of course, faith is not passive; but living faith will result in obedience to Christ. At the same time, the effort to “do well” is not in conflict with faith or a replacement for it.

In the Christian life, faith and works complement each other. We have all witnessed the imbalance of those who claim to be relying on God, and yet they are unwilling to obey the commands of the Word of God. We have also known those who were zealously committed to doing what they perceived to be right, but without the essential presence of faith and dependence upon God. You have probably heard the familiar saying which embodies this principle, “Pray as if everything depends on God, and work as though everything depends on you.” The remainder of this text promises great blessing for those who will “Trust in the LORD, and do good.” Amen

 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” (Psalm 37:3-7)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverb 3:5-6)

Lord, I’m not always “quite sure” and yet I choose to trust you with my life. As I walk the path of obedience, fill my heart with joy, eagerly expecting your favor and blessing.

To listening “Trust and obey” Please click the link below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0S8Z-dMM40

Karina

Photo credit: Google Images